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Trends for Every Salesperson

Every profession goes through changes, especially sales. A certain sales technique may have worked in the past, but that doesn’t mean it’ll work today. To be a top-performing salesperson today and in the future, you must continuously adapt to both market and social conditions.

There are several new business trends taking place—all of which affect salespeople in every industry. Understand what the trends are and how to maximize them so you can maintain a successful sales career.

Your Past Success Will Hold You Back

People who are in sales long-term tend to be successful. However, success is your worst enemy. Being at the top and doing well means you’re just trying to keep up and meet demand. You’re not looking at future opportunities because you’re busy reaping the rewards of current ones. The old saying “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” should be reworked today to state, “If it works, it’s obsolete.” If you just bought the latest device, odds are that the newer, better version is already in existence and about to be released to the public. We must evolve to stay ahead of rapid obsolescence in business.

Technology-Driven Change Will Dramatically Accelerate

While it’s human nature to protect the status quo, you have to understand that technology is changing the future, customers’ behavior, and your company’s reality. If you don’t change, you’ll be out of a job. As a salesperson, you need to embrace change wholeheartedly rather than resist and hold tight to the past. Spend some time thinking about where these impactful changes are headed. Change causes uncertainty in customers’ minds, so you bring certainty to them when you display confidence in change.

Time is increasing in value

Time is becoming more important to people because we have an aging demographic of Baby Boomers in the United States. Time gets more valuable as you get older because you have less of it. The world is more complex, with much more for people to do with their time. With so much going on, everyone is increasingly strapped for time. As a salesperson, make your customers feel that talking to you is actually saving them time. The list of time wasters is virtually endless, and these hurt your sales and profits. Prove that you’re a time saver and people will choose you over the competition.

We’ve Shifted From the Information Age to the Communication Age

Many salespeople rely on static marketing tools like company websites, flyers, and sales letters. These methods are a one-way interface. The better way is to have your sales messages be dynamic. For example, you could have a contest that encourages people to go to your site and enter. Instead of just telling people to buy your snack product, you can encourage customers to go online and vote for the next new flavor, getting them involved. The key is to generate communication, engagement, and involvement through your sales and marketing efforts. Don’t just hand out information; you want to listen, speak, and create dialogue to capture your prospects’ interest.

Solutions To Present Problems Are Becoming Obsolete Faster

Almost every salesperson has been told to be proactive by taking positive action. Unfortunately, you must wait and see to know if a certain action is positive. Instead, be pre-active to future known events. You need to look at your customer segment and identify what types of events you are certain they will experience, and focus your actions on what will be happening rather than on what is happening. Being pre-active also means that you change the way people think. When you put out a new product, it takes a while to catch on because you’re not actively changing the way people think about how the product can be used. Constantly educate your customers on the value you and your products or services offer.

The Value You Bring Today is Forgotten Faster

Sell the future benefit of what you do. Most salespeople sell the current benefits to customers who already know what they are. Your goal as a salesperson should be to establish a long-term, problem-solving relationship with customers, not a short-term transaction. Your most profitable customer is a repeat customer, so help them realize the long-term benefit of your partnership. Show them how the products and services you offer will evolve with their needs by selling the evolution of your products and services. Sit down with your fellow salespeople to create a list of future benefits that you have for your customers, and then get an idea of where the product and service developers are heading to think of future benefits preemptively.

Sales Success for the Future

The more you understand and adapt to today’s current business trends, the better your sales will be—today and in the future.

Are you anticipating future trends in your sales career? If you want to learn more about the changes that are ahead and how to turn them into an advantage by becoming anticipatory, pick up a copy of my latest book, The Anticipatory Organization.

Pick up your copy today at www.TheAOBook.com

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The Responsibility is Too High

After making a purchase, it’s common to receive a survey asking about your experience. For the most part, companies are seeking to either, see how they can improve or how the customer feels about their business. It’s your chance to express your opinion. Companies put a lot of weight on surveys which means a lot of responsibility for the customer, so careful thought should be given.

Surveys can be about facilities, logistics, or salespeople. The question you should ask before diving in is… What is this survey pertaining to? There’s something the business wants to know. By understanding what they are evaluating your answers will be helpful.

When it comes to a salesperson’s survey, most customers do not know how to answer them correctly. A survey of the person who worked with you is not the time to complain about the company. The survey is about the salesperson. You would be blaming the wrong person for your unhappiness. Here’s what happens.

The salesperson’s survey is going to his manager. It does not get to the management or ownership of the business. Unfortunately, many businesses will ask questions on the salesperson’s survey about their experience overall, but don’t be fooled. Whatever you answer will affect the salesperson.

If you are upset with how your last visit went, don’t blame the person you are working with now. When you do, you are rating your current salesperson for what happened. Or if you think it took too long for the service department to get your item fixed don’t blame the salesperson. Unless he’s the one fixing your item, he doesn’t have control over the amount of time it took. He also doesn’t have control over how the cashier treated you. Your opinion will not get to those who can do something about it.

Stay on topic. The survey is about the person who helped you, your salesperson. In some cases, they get paid less. If their normal commission is 25%, it can be cut to 15%, because of someone or something outside the salesperson’s control.

Another example would be if your delivery was late or your items didn’t come in on time. It’s not the salesperson’s fault. They weren’t the ones delivering it to you or the one who will go and pick up the item. Don’t blame the salesperson.

Here’s an example I heard from a single mother with two children. She sold a $187.00 chair to a customer, telling him he has to put it together and that the sale was final. The customer stated he would be able to do it.

When the customer took it home, he decided he didn’t like it. The sale was final, but he wanted to return it. After the store told him no, he decided to blame the salesperson stating she lied to him so the store would allow him to return it, which he did. The customer filled out the survey on the salesperson and rated her a zero. On a scale from 1 to 10 a zero is horrific. But, the customer was happy because he was able to bring the chair back.

The outcome for the salesperson was devastating. As expected, she did lose the commission of $3.37. Okay. The score of zero meant she did not get her $1000.00 bonus that month, all because of a customer. Now you see the importance of filling out a survey correctly.

A problem with surveys is you are not given a key explaining what the scores mean. Some scales are from 1 to 5, or 1 to 10. Without understanding the ratings how can you accurately pick a number? There is a practice widely used and that is; if you score anything lower than the highest rating the salesperson fails in the eyes of the company.

You might notice when you take your car in to be serviced the attendant presses you to take the survey and give him a perfect score. What they are telling you is anything lower than the highest number will affect them negatively. They could lose money, privileges, promotion, even their job. If you are upset with how your car was washed, don’t rate the salesperson who didn’t wash the car. Anything on that survey goes against the service attendant.

Here is the company’s view from your survey. Using a system of 1 to 10 for their rating, it’s not uncommon for the scale to represent:

A score of 9 or 10 is good – it helps the salesperson

A score of 7 or 8 doesn’t hurt or help the salesperson

A score of below 7 is like giving the salesperson a zero

My practice is to give the salesperson the highest score. I don’t want the burden of taking food away from a family. If I have something to complain about I write it in the comment space. I handle a problem with a salesperson by making comments on the survey so their manager will see, but I still give them the highest rating.

I take every survey I am given. Most people only fill out a survey when they are unhappy, which means that one bad survey can blow it for a salesperson. It takes fifteen good surveys to outweigh one bad one. If you were happy with your experience, take the survey and help them out.

Receiving a survey is a huge responsibility, so take it seriously. Score it by only addressing the overall topic. If you are unhappy with the situation or the salesperson give them a high rating, putting in the notes what you didn’t like. Your comment will get to the manager of the salesperson who can address it with them. If you are happy with your experience, send in the survey with the highest grading to counteract those who don’t know the significance of the ratings.